Interview With Ryan K. Lindsay
(January 2013)

The Devil is in the Details: Examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil is a new collection of essays coming this year from Sequart. Here I chat with editor Ryan K. Lindsay about the project, its origins and what DD fans can expect from the book.

Kuljit Mithra: Needless to say, when I posted the press release for this project in December, there was a lot of interest from DD fans.

I know you're excited to talk about it, because you've probably been working on it for many months now. What is the one thing you want DD fans to know about The Devil is in the Details?

Ryan K. Lindsay: I am so excited. I've been working on this book for a very long time and I cannot wait to get it straight into the hands of Daredevil fans. The one thing I really want to stress to fans of Matt Murdock is that this book comes from a place of love. I can remember reading Daredevil #202 waaaaay back when I was a little guy and I was hooked for life. This book comes from his biggest fan and it feels like something definitive. I've read this book multiple times now and as a Daredevil fan I would have flipped over this book. As it happens, I'm really honoured to be the guy providing the flip for others.

Mithra: Ha, so you kept on reading DAREDEVIL, even after Assistant Editor's Month (issue 202)?

Lindsay: Argh, typo (dangers of trying to sneak in work with a 2 year old around, ha) it was issue #200 - the one with Daredevil and his broken arm standing over a beaten Bullseye. I read Assistant Editor's month much later - my Daredevil reading history is so sporadic, especially because I live in Australia. Most of my reading was dictated by what back issues comic shops had, what I could dig up at garage sales and markets, and later on in life what was floating around eBay. But I have to admit, decades of the chase for Matt Murdock only made me more fond of each issue as I tracked them down.

Mithra: Obviously we're both Daredevil fans, and I always ask this of fans I meet online... are you a fan of Daredevil or Matt Murdock, or do you even consider them "separate"? I noticed on the cover to the book you are "examining Matt Murdock and Daredevil".

Lindsay: Man, this is a great question, mainly beause I have really strong views on this topic. I do love both sides of our favourite scarlet swashbuckler but I absolutely believe the two are searate. And I have to admit that it's Matt Murdock who really grips me. I believe he's one of the greatest tragic figures in modern literature. My catalogue of greatest moments from the book invariably star Matt Murdock and I feel the best drama and tension revolves around him. It's a testament to the man over time that he's been developed so expertly by so many creators. I often feel the spandex hero is just a delivery method to bringing richness into the world of Murdock.

This book absolutely looks into both sides of the Hornhead dichotomy and I think some of the findings are going to intrigue people. Tim Callahan has an amazing look into what made Mike Murdock and I spend a great deal of the book analysing the love life of Matt Murdock and what this informs us about him as a man. There is just so much to study.

I'm intrigued, which way do you fall on this question?

Mithra: When I first started reading the comic, I would have said Daredevil, but now I just can't picture anyone else in that costume... I follow the comic because of Matt Murdock, the guy under the mask. If someone else took over as "Daredevil", I don't know if I'd be as interested in the title.

So let's talk about the origin of the book... did Sequart come to you or did you pitch the book, and how did you reach out to the writers etc.

Lindsay: This book was something I pitched for, and pitched hard. I had been talking with the Sequart team because Tim Callahan had introduced us and I'd then written an essay in another one of their books (a series of essays about Transmetropolitan called Shot in the Face: A Journey into the Dark Heart of Transmetropolitan which will be out soon). I'd been thinking about how much Daredevil deserved the scholars eye, because I pretty much try to make everything about Daredevil and because Tim and I had just written a bazillion words about Daredevil over on CBR in The Daredevil Dialogues which was this epic chat about everything in Vol 1, and so I asked Sequart about the process of pitching books. I was sent away to collect possible materials to woo them with and so I put together about 15-20 possible essay topics and then I wrote about 20k words of essay material. It was a mammoth pitch, and took months of research and writing to deliver, but between that and my passion for this project, Sequart were kind enough to give it the green light.

Once an official Sequart project, we had to look at how it would be written. There was a time I wanted to write this all solo. However, starting a family showed me this might take me years but mostly I just wanted to see the take of certain individuals on this character and world. I honestly just knew I wanted to see what Tim Callahan would write and he didn't disappoint. No one did.

In obtaining these writers, I was given open selection to approach all the fantastic writers Sequart had previously worked with - which is an immense pool of talent - and then I approached a few specific people of my own, people I knew as dedicated and erudite hornheads. We just sent out word of what the book was going to be like, some sample essay ideas but also the option to pitch your own ideas for discussion. Once green lights were given for essays, we all squirrelled away and got writing.

Mithra: For the essay topics, did you approach the writers and say "you want to write an essay about Mike Murdock?", for example, or did they in turn pitch topics to you?

Lindsay: I wanted every writer to tackle something they were passionate about. I offered a list of suggestions but also said they could pitch me any angle at all they wanted. A fair few of them took this opportunity to really come at me with some cool stuff to analyse and discuss.

There wasn't one writer I specifically told to take a certain option - though there were definitely pairings I wanted to see. In the end, I am extremely happy with how the writers and the topics fell into order. I think everyone got stuck into really meaty stuff where they had important things to say.

Though I should admit, I called shotgun on the two essay topics I ended up writing. As the guy on the project first, it was hard to poach what I could write beause there were about 8 different topics I was super passionate about. In my head, if any were left on the table I would have taken them up, maybe, but luckily really talented people picked up my other dream essays and did very cool things with them.

Mithra: As the editor, once the topics were set with the writers, were you just fixing typos/grammar or were you also guiding the writer through their task. And since you are so close to the source material... did you ever find yourself disagreeing with anyone's views on the character?

Lindsay: As the editor, I saw my role as one of guidance and aid in whatever capacity was needed. Each writer pitched for their essay by writing a short 'thesis argument' for it. Some of these I gave notes toward - either tightening up ideas as I saw them, asking for further clarification, or pointing to some great reading material so it wasn't overlooked - and some I didn't need to touch. And just because I massaged some of them isn't an indication of quality as much as it is my desire for this book to cover the ground as superbly as possible and for this I always believe more sets of eyes are always the best.

The writers were given the Sequart Style Guide and a deadline to meet. Once essays were submitted to me, I went over them multiple times each before sending back. I would do one pass to see how it all read and how the ideas fell. Another pass would be for grammar, etc to match the style guide. Another pass would be final thoughts and checking to see if areas needed more depth added or could be truncated. It really depended on each essay but I'd say I made most writers go through, on average, three drafts each - with me reading it multiple times each draft. I'd estimate I've read these essays at least 20 times each.

Mostly, I wasn't in there rewriting anyone's words to make it sound like me but I was ensuring concepts and discussions were as clear and procedural as possible. Simetimes this meant rearranging things, sometimes it meant getting the writer to go back and address a side-topic that hadn't originally planned on writing about but which I came to feel was important. On occasion, we tweaked the major thesis of an essay, or we rebuilt sections from scratch (I know I did this for one of my essays), and we would sometimes even slice sections out for succinctness and clarity (I also fell prey to this with about 4k of words being sliced in one draft).

One thing I really loved about this project was the fact we've got all these different brains coming at the material from multiple angles. With this, I knew I would not agree with everyone and some I would downright disagree with. The trick is if I can be convinced of your point of view enough to respect that you have it then you'll do fine. If I felt anyone was 'wrong' it might be a different story but I don't think that was ever close to being an issue. As for what I did and did not agree with... well, I don't really want to reveal that hand just yet. I'm more interested in what resonates with the audience when they read the book.

Mithra: Can you show me an excerpt from one of the essays? Maybe we can go over some of things you've talked about.

Lindsay: Unfortunately, at the moment, we have a special final editorial pass being conducted on the whole book so we're holding off on showing examples of the book just yet so we can unleash the greatest version on people in excerpts very soon.

Plus, looking at how drafts get changed is boring minute work. I'm certain people have already heard too much from me on the subject.

Mithra: Okay, let's talk about the production of the book then... I'm not familiar with the copyright laws involved, but are you allowed to have any images of Daredevil in the book? Also, can you talk a bit about the cover itself, since it is very much a Daredevil image, but doesn't actually show Daredevil.

Lindsay: A lot of this is above my pay grade, thankfully, but here's what I parse of it. This book is not endorsed by Marvel and as such there are limits to what we can do. I know we weren't able to use an actual image of Daredevil as the cover - this is why we enlisted the aid of someone most/many of you know as Darediva (Alice Lynch). I went to her and asked if she would want to provide the cover for the book and she was ecstatic to do it. We spent a while batting around ideas and she eventually produced what we see today; a gorgeous cover that's very much Daredevil while still skirting the line. I absolutely adore this cover. I think it showcases some of the best things about Daredevil; the hidden hero, the darkness, the special vision of Matt Murdock. I wanted to have the New York skyline included but it was all Darediva who orchestrated those wonderful pages of text as the buildings. It was a master move and it blew me away from first sight and still does today.

As for inside the book, yes, we will be using images from the book and I believe this is so because you are allowed to repurpose pages of the books so long as it's for review purposes and in short amount. We certainly qualify for both.

Mithra: From your base in Australia, it must be a challenge to keep in constant contact with all these people working on the book... are you doing most of the communication through email, or do you all get on Skype, since I'm guessing everyone is scattered across the globe?

Lindsay: The Internet is very much my friend and email is my partner for this book. I was lucky to already know a lot of the contributors outside of the book, we birds of the Murdock flock together, but mostly I just used a lot of email to keep this book together. Because everyone was writing something different, I didn't need to coordinate the writers as a league. In the pitching/planning phase, I ensured people wouldn't be writing about similar aspects in their essays so that helped lessen the need for micromanaged coordination.

And our contributors are the All-New, All-Different X-Men of the comic literary world. We've got contributors from the US, natch, but then Australia, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, and France. It's been such a privilege to see the globe unite because of Matt Murdock

Mithra: Okay, just a couple more questions and I'll let you go... I noticed from the press release that you got Ralph Macchio to do the foreword. That must have been a special coup for you.

Lindsay: Oh, no, man, I could do this all day. Never a problem. Getting Ralph Macchio was indeed a grand score. I have to thank Steve Wacker for hooking me up with that connection. Getting to email with Ralph was a delight, he was so incredibly super nice, and his foreword is really quite sweet. It meant a lot that someone who means such a great deal to the history of Daredevil could be a part of this book.

Mithra: Last question... I know you are going to distribute this through Diamond, but what about other avenues, like bookstores and even digitally? What is the planned shipping date?

Lindsay: As yet, the planned shipping date hasn't been nailed down, but it should be around this summer. It still has to appear in the Diamond solicitations which we all know have a large lead time. Before then, we're hoping to debut some copies at Emerald City Comic Con in March for the eager fans who just cannot wait - it'll hopefully be with me and the table I'm sharing with good man and comic maker Paul Allor.

We do sell digital copies and the best place to usually find Sequart stuff is on Amazon where you can get the print or Kindle versions. Regular bookstores will be able to order this, and all other Sequart products, though it feels this is an avenue mostly not taken up on their end, sadly.

I'm actually interested to see what sort of grass roots interest I can drum up in book stores down here in Australia.

Mithra: Thanks Ryan, I hope the book does well and I look forward to reading it.

Lindsay: No, thanks to you for having me here. It is an honour to be featured on THE premiere Daredevil site. I've been reading this site for a very long time, I love how it never misses a beat on snippets of Hornhead information. You do an amazing job.

I'm glad all your fans will now have this book firmly imprinted in their 'must read' list for 2013. I promise this thing delivers and cannot wait to hear for fan response on this one. A true labour of love.

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(c) 2013 Kuljit Mithra & Ryan K. Lindsay
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear
http://www.manwithoutfear.com
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